Vaccine Schedule for Babies & Toddlers: A Cheat Sheet for Parents

Are your baby's shots on track? Get to know the vaccine schedule from the CDC to make sure he's getting his vaccinations on time, and print a free version for your wallet.
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Your baby will get up to 31 vaccinations by age 4 -- but they can be tough to keep track.

A vaccine schedule was created and approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the CDC, and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to make sure your child is receiving vaccines on time and in a safe manner.

Take a look at their schedule below, then print our version of the CDC vaccine chart, which contains updated information about the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Hepatitis B

When to get it: At birth, between 1 and 2 months, and again at 6 to 18 months

Why: This liver infection is mainly spread through contact with blood and other bodily fluids, but family members and caregivers who may not even know they're infected can also pass it on to babies. Infants who contract hepatitis B are more likely than adults to develop severe liver disease (including cirrhosis and cancer), which is why newborns should get their first dose shortly after birth.

Common Side Effects: Pain, redness, and tenderness at the injection site

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DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis)

When to get it: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months

Why: About 1 in 20 babies infected with diphtheria, an extremely contagious bacterial disease, dies from suffocation or heart failure or suffers paralysis. The illness causes a thick coating to form on the back of the throat that makes it hard to swallow and breathe. Tetanus (lockjaw) results from certain bacteria (sometimes found in soil) entering the body through a cut or wound, causing painful spasms and muscle stiffness. The initial symptoms of pertussis (whooping cough) are similar to those for the common cold: sneezing, runny nose, low-grade fever, and cough. Pertussis is most serious for babies, who can suffer seizures, develop pneumonia, become brain damaged, or even die. Approximately two-thirds of infants under age 1 who get pertussis need to be hospitalized.

Common Side Effects: Pain, redness, and tenderness at the injection site; mild fever; drowsiness; fussiness

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Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b)

When to get it: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 to 15 months

Why: Before the vaccine was introduced in 1987, Hib disease was a leading cause of meningitis, usually striking kids younger than 5, and was responsible for more than 400 deaths every year in the United States. Thanks to the vaccine, pediatricians today see fewer than 50 cases of Hib annually.

Common Side Effects: Pain, redness, and tenderness at the injection site; mild fever

Pneumococcal

When to get it: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 to 15 months

Why: Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause blood infections (sepsis), pneumonia, and meningitis. Before kids started getting vaccinated 10 years ago, thousands suffered permanent hearing or vision loss or died due to pneumococcal disease.

Common Side Effects: Pain, redness, and tenderness at the injection site; mild fever

Polio

When to get it: 2 months, 4 months, 6 to 18 months

Why: Polio is an extremely contagious virus that leads to paralysis in about 1 in 100 cases. In the early 1950s, it was extremely common, and thousands of Americans were left paralyzed. Polio has been virtually eliminated from the United States because of the vaccine.

Common Side Effects: Slight pain, redness, and tenderness at the injection site

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Rotavirus

When to get it: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months

Why: Before a vaccine became available, rotavirus was the most common cause of severe diarrhea and dehydration in kids and the number-one reason that infants were admitted to the hospital during the winter, according to Dr. Cunningham. Since 2006, when the vaccine was introduced, hospitalizations for diarrhea have been cut nearly in half, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta.

Common Side Effects: None

Influenza

When to get it: 6 months or later

The first time a child receives the flu vaccine, he needs two doses separated by at least four weeks. If your child got only H1N1 or a seasonal vaccine last year, he'll need two doses this year.

Why: In adults, this highly contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs costs you a few sick days home in bed. But infants who come down with flu often develop pneumonia and bronchitis and require hospitalization. Roughly 150 children die of influenza in the United States annually. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine contains two seasonal strains plus the H1N1 strain.

Common Side Effects: Pain, redness, and tenderness at the injection site

RELATEDThe Importance of the Flu Vaccine for Babies

MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)

When to get it: 12 to 15 months

Why: You can catch measles simply by being in a room an infected person recently left -- it's that contagious. Before the vaccine was introduced in 1963, approximately 450 children died each year from the disease, which often leads to pneumonia, seizures, and sometimes brain damage. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the largest recent outbreak took place, more than 11,000 children were hospitalized and 120 died from measles infections. Mumps is spread in the air by a cough or sneeze from an infected person. In kids, mumps can lead to meningitis, encephalitis (brain inflammation), hearing loss, or swelling of the testes, which can cause sterility.

Rubella (German measles) is usually a mild illness causing fever, swollen glands, and a rash that lasts about three days. But if a pregnant woman is infected, her fetus may suffer serious heart defects, intellectual disability, and loss of hearing and eyesight. (Relax, you were probably vaccinated against rubella as a child. Your ob-gyn will check your immunity; if it's low, you'll be revaccinated after giving birth.)

Common Side Effects: Pain, redness, and tenderness at the injection site; low-grade fever; mild rash

Varicella (chicken pox)

When to get it: 12 to 15 months

Why: From 1990 to 1994, before the vaccine became available, about 50 children died from chicken pox every year, and some developed severe infections of the skin, brain, or lungs.

Common Side Effects: Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; mild fever; rash

RELATED8 Facts About Chickenpox

Hepatitis A

When to get it: Two doses are given at least three months apart between 12 and 23 months

Why: This liver infection is spread primarily through contact with the feces of an infected person. About 100 people die from hepatitis A every year.

Common Side Effects: Soreness, a feeling of warmth, or swelling at the injection site

Worried About Autism?

The most common concern about vaccines in recent years has been a reported link between the MMR vaccine and autism. But scientists say that theory has been firmly laid to rest.

More than 25 reputable studies found no difference in the rate of autism in kids who received the vaccine compared with those who didn't. Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the researcher who published a study in support of the theory, has been banned from practicing in Britain, and the journal that published his study has retracted the findings.

Should parents follow a strict vaccine schedule or is there room for flexibility?

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